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Entries / Cabmen


Categories / City Services/Transportation/Municipal Transportation

CABMEN, appeared in St. Petersburg in the city's early days (decree of 1705 "On Taxing Cabmen"), at about the same time cab driving grew into a business practised as a rule by peasants. By 1745 there were 3,000 cabmen in St. Petersburg. Traffic regulations for cabmen appeared in 1705, 1732, 1745, and 1783 and later on. In 1739 special guards were posted on the streets to monitor observance of traffic rules. Quite a number of cabmen lived in coachman settlements around Ligovsky Avenue and the present Marata Street, in the vicinity of St. Alexander Nevsky Laura, where in the middle of the 19th century a Coach unit was set up, and other settlements, as well as in yam settlements (short for Russian yamschik - coachman) in the St. Petersburg suburbs (Yam-Izhora and others), where resided the coachmen who served on postal carriages travelling to other cities. There were two types of cabmen - draymen (freight) and cab-drivers (for riders, passengers). Passenger cabmen (fiacre-drivers) were in turn classed into "stock exchange drivers" (waiting for "big shots" in certain locations) and "no special location" ones, also called "vankas" (diminutive for the name Vanya). "Vankas" mostly worked for a "master". There were "scorchers" ("dashers") among "stock exchange" cabmen, riding gentlemen for fun for a considerable fee. Starting in 1783 the Police department (Uprava Blagochiniya - police authorities in Russian cities and governorates in the 18th -late 19th centuries) began issuing "cabman tickets" (business permits), as well as a leather tag with the fiacre-driver’s number and city district, to which the cabman was assigned. The tag was sewn on the jupe that was a cabman's uniform). A yellow girdle and a yellow topped cap were the cabman's insignia (the cab also was coloured yellow). By the late 18th century 5,000 permits were issued. Cabmen paid a tax of two roubles annually; owners of cab business paid ten roubles annually. The droshky, fiacres, carriages, sleighs - were the cabmen's transportation in the winter, in the middle of the 19th century there appeared four-wheeler flies. By the middle of the 19th century circa 6,000 cabmen worked in St. Petersburg in the summer, and 7,500 in the winter. The speed limit was 10 versts (1 verst = 3,500 ft.) per hour. In winter cabmen and coachmen could warm up in the so-called "heaters", or pavilions with a heater inside. From the late 18th century there appeared "cabman inns" offering lodging for coachmen and providing stalls for horses (the well-known inns in the 19th century were Ryazan Inn in Kuznechny Lane, Khiva Inn on Glazovaya Street and others). Cabmen used to wait for passengers at train stations, hotels, at intersections etc., "dashers" - at the State Duma building, at the corner of Troitskaya Street and Nevsky Prospect, and other locations. Since the late 18th century to the 19th the so-called "veyki" (or "chukhny") - winter sleighs for holiday drives were popular; this business was run by migrant Karelians and Finns (called in Russian Chukhnya), (hence the name). In 1876 new business regulations were adopted. Only persons over 18 years old could be issued the cabman's card (certificate); cabmen had to pass an exam on city streets and sights, traffic rules, and horse handling. The exams were presided over by police officials and City Duma members. Upon the appearance of omnibuses (1847), horsecars (1863) and trams (1907) cabmen retained their services: in 1900 there were over 16 thousand fiacres and 2,500 drays in St. Petersburg, however by 1914 their number decreased twofold. Draymen and cab-drivers existed in Leningrad all the way through into the late 1930s. In 1980, fiacre-drivers appeared in the city as a tourist attraction. In 1999 the governor of St. Petersburg issued a direction on cartage and rider transport traffic (alongside with bicycles and mopeds).

References: Петров П. П. Легковые извозчики Петербурга // БА. 1984. № 17. С. 45-56; Антонов П. А. Ямщик, не гони лошадей! // ЛП. 1986. № 1. С. 35-37; Засосов Д. А., Пызин В. И. Из жизни Петербурга 1890-1910-х гг. Л., 1991. С. 38-46.

Y. N. Kruzhnov.

Ligovsky Ave/Saint Petersburg, city
Marata St./Saint Petersburg, city
Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city
Rubinsteina St./Saint Petersburg, city

Антонов П. А. Ямщик, не гони лошадей! // Ленингр. панорама., 1986
Петров П. П. Легковые извозчики Петербурга // Блокнот агитатора, 1984
Засосов Д. А., Пызин В. И. Из жизни Петербурга 1890 - 1910-х гг. Л., 1991

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Alexander Nevsky Lavra
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